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Mental Health in the Workplace

The importance of mental wellness is finally beginning to get noticed by corporations across the country. Joe Sifer, senior vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton, a strategy and technology firm, understands first-hand that the connection between mind and body is undeniable.

In 1996, Sifer was a young employee whose work suffered due to frequent anger, moodiness, and agitation at the office. His company told him that he had potential, but in order to continue his position at the company, he needed to seek professional help (

“They helped me get on the path of emotional improvement, emotional awareness and of emotional health, and that made a huge difference,” Sifer said.

Nearly one in four Americans will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives (, and most adults spend anywhere from 5-10 hours of their day at their work place. Dealing with a non-treated mental illness causes severe impairment to the individual’s day-to-day routine. It can be particularly difficult for someone who is required to work closely with other people. It can also affect someone’s ability to concentrate, maintain productivity, and can even increase of absenteeism ( However, in some situations, mental illness can go completely unrecognized in the work place.

According to Harvard Health Publications, researchers analyzed employee responses to a World Health Organization workplace health questionnaire and found that workers with depression reported the equivalent of 27 lost work days per year — nine of them because of sick days or other time taken out of work, and another 18 reflecting lost productivity. Other research has found that employees with depression are more likely than others to lose their jobs and to change jobs frequently (

Making mental health a priority in the work place by offering Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), and wellness programs that include stress relief techniques such as Yoga, or meditation, will create a culture where it’s accepted to reach out for help.

Having information and resources available for employees will also help assure those in need that they are not alone.

“At Booz Allen Hamilton, we pick up emotional well-being, emotional health and mental health as part of our leadership culture,” said Sifer, who now leads more than 4,000 Booz Allen Hamilton employees. “It is essential to how we work as a people-based enterprise, (”

Removing the stigma from mental illness and investing in your employees overall health, are key to overall corporate wellness!


About Jill Sauser, The Kim Foundation Project Coordinator
Jill graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Speech Communication from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2009. During her time at UNO, she completed a two year PR practicum program where she worked with numerous nonprofit clients including the MS Society, The Archdiocese of Omaha, The Omaha Food Bank, and YWCA. Since becoming Project Coordinator at The Kim Foundation in April 2014, she has become an active member of the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition, The Omaha Metro Hoarding Taskforce, the Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, the Metro Area LOSS Team, and is helping lead a community-wide community health improvement initiative with the Douglas County Health Department called, “Just Reach Out,” which is focused on improving the community’s view on mental and behavioral health treatment.